Gordon Hayward’s three-year stay with the Boston Celtics was rocky.
All parties wanted things to work out, of course, but brutal injuries plagued his time in Boston. And as he sat out for all but five minutes of his first season with the Celtics, a teammate managed to take advantage of that opportunity.
While Hayward waited on his broken ankle to heal, a young Jaylen Brown got a lot of reps that were crucial in his quick growth and development. Brown being named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career on Tuesday, in a way, was all made possible by the responsibility he had to take on when Hayward faced injury and even more so this season — as Hayward turned down his player option with the Celtics.
With Brown’s emergence as one of the NBA’s best two-way players, Hayward arguably became Boston’s No. 4 guy. While that was a luxury, Hayward rightfully wanted the more prominent role he found with the Charlotte Hornets.
Speaking in a radio interview about the changes to the Celtics roster, majority team owner Wyc Grousbeck on Wednesday acknowledged the year Hayward is having in Charlotte. The Hornets wing is averaging 21.9 points per game while shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from deep.
But Grousbeck told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Felger & Mazz” that losing him has worked out for everyone.
“Gordon’s having an excellent year down in Charlotte,” Grousbeck told the station. “Gordon’s flourishing in Charlotte is because he’s featured and because he deserves it. And he’s a great player, as we know. You should have seen the offer we made him to stay, it reflects a lot of respect for his game. But he’s more featured down there and he’s living up to it. And we’re happy for him.
“And then Jaylen is living up to the increased role he has because Gordon’s gone and Jaylen is now in the All-Star Game. So that was kind of a win-win for those two guys. It’s hard to have them coexist, and that’s (not) on a personal level. They’re great teammates, but on a planning the roster level, of where you’re going to put your next max contract, it’s not going to be a duplicate of Jaylen Brown.”
All that being said, the Celtics certainly are missing Hayward’s contributions as a large wing with tremendous impact on both sides of the floor.
Grousbeck himself said that the current iteration of this Boston roster is not good enough to be a contender, but he is hopeful that the pieces are in place for the future with the foundation they have.